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Passive Cooling Article in Distinctly Montana

Passive Cooling Article in Distinctly Montana

Wow, it’s sweltering hot all across the U.S. right now! This is perfect timing to read our article that was recently published in the Summer 2018 edition of Distinctly Montana, “Montana’s leading lifestyle magazine.” Entitled, Passive Cooling Design: The Natural Way to Air Condition Your Home, we discuss how passive cooling design and construction strategies help keep your home naturally cool in the warmer months. We also explain how passive cooling is a perfect companion to passive solar heating, which helps keep your home efficiently warm during the cooler months.

“With these hot, summer days upon us, Montanans use every opportunity to seek refuge in our state’s coolest natural environments—rivers and lakes, canyon bottoms, and higher mountain elevations where the air is crisp… Returning to our homes, however, we often find ourselves sweltering until the cool night air finally finds its way indoors. Either that or we run energy-consumptive fans and air conditioners around the clock to improve the interior comfort… It doesn’t have to be that way though.”

JPegs of the article are available below or you can read the PDF by clicking here.

 

 

Sunlight Comparison on a Passive Solar Home: Summer vs. Spring

Sunlight Comparison on a Passive Solar Home: Summer vs. Spring

As always, we really enjoy visiting the Hawk Ridge owners in their new sustainable, “Sun Smart” (combined passive solar & radiant hydronic floor heating) home. We visited on a hot and intensely sunny June 27th (6 days from Summer Solstice) and there was no direct sunlight entering the home through the south facing windows and therefore no unwanted passive solar heat gain. The interiors were well-lit, yet were staying at a comfortable temperature with no fans or air conditioning running. A few windows were strategically opened for passive ventilation/cooling. As you scroll through the photos, you’ll see the sunlight difference between early summer and early spring.

This is the passive solar collection area in the master bedroom suite on June 27th near high noon. The interior is well lit, yet there is no direct sunlight entering and therefore no passive solar heat gain.

The master bedroom hallway area is welcoming passive solar heat gain (direct sunlight) on a cold & sunny April 3rd. Note that April 3rd is 89 days from Winter Solstice, when this “Sun Smart” homes sees the deepest solar penetration.

This is the main passive solar collection area in the living room and looking toward the reading room. There is no direct sunlight entering on this very sunny, 80+F degree June 27th day.

Passive solar hear gain & direct sunlight entering through the south-facing windows in the living room and reading room beyond. Photo taken on a cold & sunny April 3rd.

The garage is also designed for passive solar heat gain during the colder months, but is seeing no direct sunlight on June 27th.

This photo was taken in early November and demonstrates the passive solar heat gain action in the garage. A garage doesn’t have to be dark, cold, and gloomy! 

Here we can see the roof overhangs on the south side of the house doing their important job: blocking unwanted heat gain on this hot & sunny June 27th day. Notice that the entire south-facing facade is in shadow. Through design, modeling, and evaluation, we carefully determine during the initial design phases how roof overhangs control heat gain. Please check these fun and informative images & videos that we created for the Hawk Ridge Home that explore roof overhangs and solar penetration throughout the year.

This “Sun Smart” home benefits from the Sun’s energy year-round. The solar panels were cranking out electricity on June 27th. These panels are grid-tied, meaning that the electric company pro-rates their electric bill for making more energy than used on the plentiful sunny days. We’ll be eager to see the electric usage after a year, but at this point, this sustainable home is looking to be almost completely run by solar energy (both passive and active) and therefore almost net zero!

 

New Project: Utah Addition Design

New Project: Utah Addition Design

The word about Greenovision’s home design services is slowly getting out in Logan, Utah. We’re pleased to share a sneak peak of another addition design that we’re working on there. While we primarily work in southwest Montana, since the majority of our design work is done remotely on the computer, it may be possible for us to work outside of this area including in other Northern states, project depending. Location is not necessarily a deterrent, so please contact us with a description of your project and we can discuss the best way we can help you reach your goals. Greenovision designs new custom homes, remodels, additions, home improvement features and also offers hourly consultation.

Home makeovers are rewarding to work on, especially for this home as this second story addition design will drastically improve the living experience for the residents. The main goals for this design are to increase head height and livable space upstairs, improve the comfort and energy efficiency for the entire home, & construct the addition to be durable and long lasting. It’s also rewarding to work with clients that are really excited about their big changes ahead.

Here are images of the existing home (before images) and the new second story design (after images). Please stay tuned as more information on this remodel project becomes available.

 

1890’s Log Cabin Remodel Update: One year later

1890’s Log Cabin Remodel Update: One year later

An apt post for National Home Improvement Month (May)- the 1890’s log cabin homeowners in Logan have seen some exciting progress on their long term addition + remodel project. It was a year ago that we provided the design and drawings for this project and our last blog update was in July 2017. Outside, the entire home has gotten a standing seam metal roof, the second story addition has been clad with siding, and the polycarbonate has been installed on the entry roof/awning. Inside, the addition has been thoroughly sealed & insulated, dry-walled, and the natural wood ceilings are installed. Interior & exterior painting, trim carpentry, as well as flooring installation are next on the plate. The homeowners report that they are very happy with the design we provided for this project.

 

This home was originally a log cabin built in the 1890’s that had seen numerous (poorly constructed) additions over the years. There was a small shed roof addition on the rear that was un-insulated and had asphalt shingles causing severe ice damming and damage to the roof & entryway. The upstairs space was seldom used because it was too small and poorly designed, plus the stairs were too steep, narrow, and dangerous. The addition design solved a number of problems for this home: 1) It fixed the ice damming issue, 2) It created more space to build safer stairs that meet code, 3) It created a more comfortable and spacious upstairs space that can serve as a guest room, and 4) It greatly improved the energy efficiency for the entire home.

The polycarbonate roof/awning over the rear entry has also been a huge improvement for the homeowners. Before, the owners would exit directly into the snow and rain. Now the entry is sheltered from the elements, but the polycabonate still allows natural light to enter the home through the glass door.

Looking from the addition area toward the remodeled second story area. We can’t wait to see how this space continues to transform from painting, trim carpentry, and flooring.

The addition now provides ample natural day lighting and views of the mountains. There will be built-in shelving on the wall to the right.

The homeowners report that over the winter, their entire home required less heating and the second story stayed warm with no heat source upstairs. There have been some warm days so far this spring and the upstairs is staying at a comfortable temperature. Before the remodel, the upstairs would quickly over heat on warm days. This demonstrates the efficiency value of a high performance building envelope.

As always, please be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates on this remodel project as often post project updates and photos there that don’t make it to our blog. Thank you to the homeowners for your updates and kind words on our design!

Hawk Ridge Drone Video and Pics

Hawk Ridge Drone Video and Pics

Greenovision home featured in Inhabitat

Greenovision home featured in Inhabitat

The Crimson Bluffs Home has been featured on Inhabitat, “a website dedicated to green design, innovation, and the future of clean technology!” Honored to have our home design cataloged on this site among other cool, green projects.

Hawk Ridge Home December Pictures

Hawk Ridge Home December Pictures

Progress Report last month of 2017!

Hi everyone, we wanted to share some recent progress of the Hawk Ridge Home located in Pray, Montana. The wood ceilings and the interior painting are complete. The porcelain “weathered wood” floor planking is be laid by Brad Morgan of Morgan Tile.  It looks great!  The next touches will be window sills, slated wood walls, interior doors and associated trim, fixtures, cabinets, and weathered wood staircase.  Stay tuned as things typically speed up at this point as most of the “heavy lifting” is done. Josh’s finishing crew is working right along.  Thanks to all of the great subcontractors Josh has brought on board.  And everyone have a Merry Christmas!

 

Mountain Modern Homes Are Not Just for Uber Wealthy

Mountain Modern Homes Are Not Just for Uber Wealthy

Mountain Modern Home

Mountain Modern Homes are not just for the uber wealthy; they can be designed for you, too! Conventional homes often rely on costly interior decoration for aesthetic beauty (see this write up). At Greenovision, our Mountain Modern Home designs aim to focus the home on the beauty of the world around us rather than on material distraction, which can be unnecessarily expensive. Our home design strategies aim to simplify overall building complexity. We typically achieve this by combining simpler roof lines (i.e. fewer valleys, hips, intersections, dormers, etc) with overall simpler open floor plan and interiors (i.e. less complex and unnecessary trim, walls, and paint schemes). This absence of complication not only shifts the occupants’ focus to the ephemeral beauty of the outdoors, it also saves money on construction. Such savings can then be allocated into energy efficient infrastructure and sustainable materials that last longer, are more durable, and even look better. These savings are also what can make Mountain Modern Home design attainable to the average homeowner, not just the uber wealthy. The key ingredient to all of these benefits is quality, well-thought-out design.

What make Mountain Modern Homes beautiful, cool, sleek, efficient, and long lasting has everything to do with how they are designed. Quality design begins with investigating the specifics of site location, which then unveils material and color palettes that will help integrate the home into its surroundings. For example, a designer analyzes environmental textures, colors & light (colors rely on light), and angles & slopes, then fashions the home design to blend and/or contrast with these surrounding features. To see and read more on designing to your home location, please go here. You can see more on how the environment influences our design process here.

The location of a home drives our design process even further when we consider energy efficiency strategies that will be appropriate for such sites. Every environment has strengths and weaknesses that must be carefully considered so that our design fits the needs and limits of the home. To learn more about Greenovision’s energy efficiency strategies, please go here or read our blog posts here.

Mountain Modern Home

Take a close look at what some are considering a Mountain Modern Home and see if they fulfill some of the design considerations we have mentioned here; be critical. Mountain Modern Homes, as with any home style, should not just be a recycled style thrown down on any site. Conventional homes can often appear to have been designed, but after examining how the home feel and performs, it’s clear that the home was a replicated typology and lacked thorough design. To us, Mountain Modern Home design should be a well-thought-out endeavor that is not only beautiful in setting and interior, but considers an array of design details, technologies, and ideas! Investing in a new Mountain Modern Home that is designed for you and where you live is a great idea. And lastly, do you have to live in the mountains to have this style? No, its just a home typology, just like you don’t have to live in colonial times to have a colonial home.  Contact us and let’s get going on your design!

Mountain Modern Homes

Transparent Awning Over Sliding Door Built and Installed

Transparent Awning Over Sliding Door Built and Installed

Why Polycarbonate awnings make sense

All exterior doors and their thresholds should be protected by a roof.  In my early days of remodeling construction, I took apart numbers of exterior doorways due to water damage.  Whenever there is a penetration through an exterior wall that is at ground level, there will be moisture issues over time no mater how well the builder tried to seal the door during installation.  Typical roofs over glass doors cut off day lighting and views; not so with our polycarbonate awnings. Our custom designed transparent awnings not only protect the threshold from water damage, but also add UV protection to vulnerable interior finishes from harmful sun rays. Our awnings still let the sunlight in and look sleek and stylish. This awning, recently built and installed at the Hawk Ridge Home, is also an important component of the passive solar design.

Hawk Ridge Home exterior close to complete

Hawk Ridge Home exterior close to complete

Just a few images of how we are looking at the Hawk Ridge Home just before winter ramps up.  The status of the interior is that all plumbing, heating, and electrical are wired, routed, and hooked up. The drywall is up and being finished. We will get some images once things start to look like an interior!

The local mule deer seem to just love this area; can you spot the bucks?

With the installation of the polycarbonate garage doors, the garage and boat shed are now seeing passive solar heat gain and have ample natural day lighting, two energy efficiency strategies used in main part of the home. A garage shouldn’t have to be gloomy, cold, and boring!

 

Wattage!  Solar electric kicking out some juice!